US, Qatar announce partnerships following third strategic dialogue
The allies affirmed support for a strong and united Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) during the third US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, held amid the third year of a land, air and sea blockade imposed on the Gulf state by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
"Qatar thanked the United States for supporting Kuwaiti mediation efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and independence of the State of Qatar," the statement said.
The talks were held in Washington on September 14-15, 2020 and brought together US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
Friday's joint statement also noted an increase in bilateral trade between the two states, which grew by 30.7 percent between 2018 and 2019.
"US exports to Qatar also increased by 39 percent over the same period, accounting for 21 percent of all imports to Qatar in 2019. The United States remains Qatar's largest foreign direct investor and largest trading partner."
The statement praised Qatar for its "active leadership and mediation" in the region which in the last few weeks saw it engage in reconciliation among all parties in Somalia and Sudan, as well as its "indispensable role in bringing Taliban representatives to the negotiation table and for hosting the signing of the historic US-Taliban Agreement in February and the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in September".
Qatar noted its commitment of $88 million to support the Covid-19 pandemic response to over 80 countries worldwide while the US made mention of $20.5 billion to benefit the global Covid-19 pandemic response.
The allies announced plans to host Covid-19 workshops at conferences held in Qatar and the United States to work together to support capacity-building in at-risk countries.
Platforms for enhancing cooperation on topics of mutual concern would also be explored, including zoonotic disease, environmental health, immunisation, disease surveillance, points of entry, and health emergency preparedness.
Counterterrosim and security
Regarding counterterrorism, both sides expressed shared ambitions to eradicate terrorism and counter violent extremism.
"The United States welcomes Qatar’s commitment to provide $75 million over five years to the work of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNCT). Qatar renewed its commitment to its UN obligations, including those related to countering terrorist financing and terrorism information sharing," the statement said.
"Both sides are committed to greater coordination and cooperation towards bolstering cyber resilience, combatting cybercrime, and strengthening critical infrastructure protection measures," the statement said.
"They are reviewing progress on information-sharing initiatives such as the Homeland Security Information Network and reaffirm the need to continue efforts to prevent terrorist radicalization and recruitment.
"As Qatar prepares to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the United States intends to continue close cooperation with Qatari counterparts in support of a safe and successful tournament," the statement added.
Plans to expand the operational capability of Al Udeid Air Base were also discussed at the talks and the US delegation commended Qatar's generosity in upgrading critical facilities and infrastructure at the base.
The upgrades would increase the capability of US and coalition forces based in Qatar, the statement said.
The first round of the US-Qatar strategic dialogue took place in January 2018 and ended with the US's formal announcement of support for Qatar against a Saudi-led blockade that is still in place.
The blockade began in June 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.
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They accused Doha of backing radical Islamists as well as Iran, charges which Qatar strongly denied. In July Qatar won a ruling at the International Court of Justice regarding airspace restrictions imposed by the blockading countries.
Last week, Schenker said that the blockading countries were now showing "flexibility" and expressed cautious hope that the blockade would end soon.